The Fastest Way to Board a Plane

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NEW YORK ( MainStreet) —  Particle physicist Jason Steffen probably knew he was on to something in 2008 when he used a Markov Chain Monte Carlo optimization algorithm to come up with a fastest way to board a plane, but now he has proven it.

An official scientific experiment has established that “the Steffen method” does, in fact, cut boarding times in half.  The method, based on some very serious math and science, permits passengers with children to board first and then boards ticketholders onto the plane based on whether or not they have a window, middle or aisle seat and what side of the plane they have been assigned to.

You can actually check out video footage from the experiment, conducted by Steffen and television writer Jon Hotchkiss, above to get a better idea of what the method looks like.

The test shown was conducted in a mock 757 fuselage, located on a Southern California soundstage, with 12 rows of six seats and a single aisle. Steffen and Co. used five different methods to board 72 passengers of various ages onto the faux plane.

They discovered that the physicist’s method got the job done in 3 minutes and 36 seconds, almost half the time it took to board the plane using traditional methods. Boarding the plane in blocks took 6 minutes and 54 seconds while boarding the plane back-to-front took 6 minutes and 11 seconds.

The Steffen method was also faster than using random seat allocations, which took 4 minutes and 44 seconds or the Wilma method, which boards passengers based on whether they have an aisle, middle or window seat, but does not account for the alternating sides of the plane. That type of seating took 4 minutes and 13 seconds.

Steffen has always asserted that the method would work since it most accurately accounts for the time that it takes a passenger to load his or her luggage into the overhead compartments. It's also meant to minimize how often people bump into or climb over each other.

Of course, this scientific experiment doesn’t guarantee that airlines will start utilizing Steffen’s now-proven method as they aren’t exactly known for their practicality or awesome customer service.

But, hey, at least we have an answer for high school kids who complain that math and science have no real-world applications.

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